The Republic of Kazakhstan is a young state in Central Asia with a little over 30 years of independent history. Located in the very center of the Eurasian continent, surrounded by major geopolitical players, our country strives to constantly improve its competitiveness, and above all, in the economy and trade. Our state considers accreditation as one of the main tools for achieving success. National Center for Accreditation (NCA) – a state accreditation body under the Ministry of Trade and Integration of Kazakhstan – does not stop at assessing the already traditional for the country, scopes of accreditation, and is constantly introducing new schemes into its work. One of them is biobanking.
The term “Biobank” came into use by scientists and entrepreneurs in Kazakhstan not so long ago. The development in Kazakhstan of such promising areas such as plant and livestock breeding, transplantation and transfusion, treatment of genetically determined diseases and many others turned out to be impossible without biobanks – specialized repositories for the organized collection, labeling, processing, storage and analysis of samples of biological materials and related data for scientific and biomedical research.
Not every repository of biological materials can be called a biobank. Specially selected collections of plants and animals or their biomaterials, including samples taken from humans, can be used in research and clinical care only under sufficiently stringent conditions for any manipulation with them.
The scope of biobanking in Kazakhstan has changed a lot over the past thirty years. It began with small, mostly university repositories that were created for research and specific projects needs. Gradually, institutional and state-supported repositories, commercial biological repositories, population and virtual biobanks have developed.
However, a real breakthrough in the history of biobanking began with the development and adoption of the international standard ISO 20387 “Biotechnology — Biobanking — General requirements for biobanking”. The standard was created to build confidence in biobanking. It establishes requirements that allows biobanks to demonstrate high competence in their work and the ability to provide biological material and the related data of an appropriate quality, which in turn, will ensure a high level of research, development or services.
Since 2020, the National Center for Accreditation of Kazakhstan has been working actively on the implementation of biobank accreditation schemes. As part of the promotion of the ISO 20387 standard, NCA specialists have held webinars with the involvement of a foreign lecturer for the target audience of scientists, animal breeders and medical workers. As well as training for biobank staff and seminars for university teachers and students in order to build the capacity of technical experts.
The National Center for Accreditation of Kazakhstan has published a video and posts, articles and interviews are regularly released on the official website and social networks on the development of biobanking.
NCA specialists have received theoretical and practical training and visited accredited biobanks in countries such as South Korea and India. On the basis of the skills and knowledge acquired, three specialists have been awarded the title of expert bio-banking auditors. NCA’s procedural documents have been amended to ensure that we are ready to accept applications for the initial accreditation of biobanks.
Biobanks in Kazakhstan have shown particular interest in the standard. Today, about 2-3 potential applicants in our country are preparing for accreditation. Accreditation is seen as a good motivation for biobank staff. Accreditation will contribute to positioning the biobank as an organization that complies with all the requirements established by the standard for proper record keeping, clinical and diagnostic control, implementation of appropriate management of material resources and personnel, maintaining feedback with consumers, monitoring quality, ensuring the effectiveness of services provided and taking into account the opinions of patients.